When doctors discuss mesothelioma treatment options, they often try to cover important questions that you or your loved ones may have. What may be one of the most concerning questions for patients: How much mesothelioma pain can I expect to experience?
Mesothelioma pain can be a real problem for those diagnosed. Not only does it decrease quality of life, but if the pain is a side effect of treatment, it can make you unwilling to comply with your healthcare team’s recommendations. This is why scientists are thankfully trying to find complementary therapies that can make conventional ones more tolerable.
Of course, finding relief from mesothelioma pain can be found in some surprising activities. In fact, for centuries, yoga has been used in different countries to improve the health of practitioners. In the U.S., some experts suggested that the mind-body regimen may be useful for pain management. Recently, a study published in the journal Cerebral Cortex supported this concept.
What does the new research say?
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which is a branch of the National Institutes of Health, funded a study that looked at yoga’s influence on how the brain perceives pain. For the experiment, the scientists recruited 28 subjects: 14 who practiced yoga and 14 who didn’t. All study participants submerged their hands in a container filled with cold water and held them there until they couldn’t stand the pain. Afterward, they answered questions about their strategies to cope with pain and underwent brain scans.
The experiment showed that those who practiced yoga were able to tolerate the cold water task twice as long as the other subjects. The brain scans showed that the total volume of gray matter in brain tissue was the same among all study participants, but those who did yoga had greater concentrations of these cells in parts of the brain that are important for processing pain.
Furthermore, yoga practitioners talked about using yoga techniques to deal with the pain. These included accepting their sensations and concentrating on their breathing and ability to relax.
This study can’t prove that yoga caused these differences, but suggests that the exercise system may be beneficial in teaching pain management techniques.
What does this mean for cancer patients?
So, as a mesothelioma patient or caregiver, what sort of pain should you expect from treatment? Well, unfortunately, there are several things that can cause pain in cancer patients. This includes the recovery process from surgery, radiation treatments or pressure from tumors that press on nerve cells. In some cases, chemotherapy itself can damage the nerves and cause painful sensations.
At any rate, cancer patients need better pain management options. This newest study suggests that yoga can complement more standard approaches, such as analgesics.
If you’re considering adding yoga to your health regimen, there are several things you need to remember. First and foremost, yoga should be used to complement your care rather than outright replace medical treatment. Second, you should talk to your medical team, who can advise you on whether yoga is an appropriate physical activity for you.
Once you do find a yoga teacher who sounds promising, be sure to tell him or her about your medical condition. This can help the teacher adjust his or her instructions for you in order to accommodate your specific needs.